Chris Kirwan, SWA writes :
HEADS were held high rather than in hands at Rodney Parade on Saturday after Newport finished a troubled home campaign with a flourish against Swansea. There have been plenty of games to forget for the Black and Ambers on their own patch this term. Seven Premiership opponents have left Newport with the points, while Gwent rivals Ebbw Vale sent them crashing out of the Swalec Cup. But they have won all their home league games since the turn of the year and deservedly ended with a five-pointer against Swansea at the weekend.
Tries by centre Luke Plummer, wing Elliot Frewen, flanker Darren Waters and scrum-half James Leadbeater were just reward for an ambitious and enterprising approach. Newport look like a team again after spending much of the season playing like a group of strangers. The Black and Ambers aren’t used to being at the bottom end of the table but they haven’t gone into their shells in the run-in, instead they overcame Swansea with an expansive game shaped by offloading out of the tackle.
“Our focus all week was to finish strongly at home and put on a show for our supporters and we certainly did that,” said head coach Sven Cronk. “It was a game that summed our season up – we played some fantastic rugby and some dull stuff as well! But it was a great win and now the boys want to go to Llanelli and Pontypool and finish the season strongly.”
The first half was an enjoyable affair and Newport could, and should, have enjoyed a larger lead at the break than 13-9. They started with ambition, offloads and playing at a high tempo and it was only a lack of accuracy that prevented them from crossing the whitewash. The Black and Ambers could have had two tries in the first four minutes, only for centre Plummer to throw a miss pass when the ball should have gone through the hands in the 22, and then wing Alan Awcock spilled possession when well placed, though it was hardly the kindest of passes. The signs were promising with a dominant scrum, and forwards Dai Pattison, Adam Frampton, Andrew Brown and incredibly impressive Waters in lively mood. But the game was in the balance at half-time thanks to the prolific kicking of Swansea fly-half Sam Davies, the son of Scarlets supremo Nigel. He struck three penalties to two by Newport full-back Gareth Bowen, who also converted the only try of the first half. That came on 28 mins while Swansea were down to 14 men after Nicky Thomas’ yellow card for a slap, centre Plummer powering over after a strong charge by flanker Carl Townsend.
The visitors struck in the opening seconds of the second half when Thomas sneaked over in the corner, but the Black and Ambers were once again ruthless when the Whites saw yellow. Cronk’s side struck twice with winger Frewen – who had saved a try with a magnificent last-ditch tackle in the first half – dancing over for the first and then setting up Waters with a searing, weaving run. Replacement hooker Alun-Wyn Davies made it a nervy ending when he crossed on the hour for Swansea but a third yellow card for the visitors, for centre Nick Harwood, helped seal the deal. The Black and Ambers put the pressure on and were rewarded for a brave call of going for a five-metre scrum rather than three points with the score at 25-21. They hammered away at the line before Leadbeater pounced to make it the perfect ending to a less than perfect home season.
Photos courtesy of Simon Latham and Ron Sutcliffe:
http://s296.photobucket.com/albums/mm18 ... =slideshow